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People often ask what it is that ESAi has done, but ESAi likes to brag about what our members do!...
Welcome to Google Amharic Page
The following excerpts were taken from http://www.bigissueethiopia.com/ethiotech/
[img=right:9196c9da72]http://www.esai.org/temp/google-am.GIF[/img:9196c9da72]The people who ushered the ancient language into the internet mainstream were a tiny group of diaspora Ethiopians, sitting thousands of miles apart in front of their computer screens across Europe and North America.
Google's ongoing Ethiopic transformation has been almost entirely down to fewer than five young men who have dedicated countless hours of their lives to translating the internet giant into their native language all free of charge.
"We love the challenge," said Alemayehu Gemeda, a 24-year-old computer science student, born in Addis Ababa but currently based at Austria's University of Salzburg.
"There's the challenge to go deeper, to learn and explore our own language from a very different perspective the perspective of technology.
"Our second biggest motivation has been to make up for the lack of a meaningful offline/online system support for Amharic or any other Ethiopian language in this ever growing IT environment.
"Last but not least, there's the love for that country of contrast, Ethiopia."
Alemayehu is listed as the administrator of the 'Google Amharic Ethiopic Translation' Google Group - an online discussion forum where anyone who wants to can log on and join in the ongoing, seemingly never-ending translation effort.
There are currently 17 group members. But if you look through the listings, it doesn't take long to spot the core participants. There is Million, Tegegne, Muktar, and Alex (aka Alemayehu).
All of them are cramming the translation work into evenings, weekends and lunch breaks. "Sometimes I get over excited and then I find it painful to stop once translation work is underway," said Alemayehu.
"But thank God there is a wonderful team that I am proud of which functions harmoniously. Everybody working on this project knows what their responsibilities are. Teamwork is the key. This makes it easier for you to way to fit this demanding work into the rest of your life."
The volunteer translators do their work through the 'Google in Your Language' program, set up by the Californian company to get its stark home page on to as many computer screens across the world as possible.
It is a simple enough system. After clicking on a few links, you reach an online table with some familiar Google phrases listed in English on the left and their Amharic equivalents on the right. If you think the Amharic version is wrong, simply type in your suggested improvement into the edit box.
After your correction has been checked, there is every chance that it will then go live on the Amharic version of the site. (There are currently 117 parallel translation efforts going on in other languages including Klingon and Tigrinya).
The bulk of the work on translating the core Google search engine was built on the efforts of another mysterious Ethio-hacker, known only by his screen name '4get.this', who has since moved on to other projects. "A lot of credit should go to him," said Alemayehu.
The four Google Groupers' first job was to finish off 4get.this's work on Google.com. Back in March, every online Ethiopian got a chance to inspect the finished project when the Amharic version of the home page www.google.com.et became the default view for Google within Ethiopia.
While that was going on, the volunteer translators had already moved on to their current obsession translating every word and phrase used by Google's online email service Gmail. "We want to make sure that Gmail will be the first email client which is available in Amharic," said Alemayehu.
What motivates them is a mixture of Ethiopian idealism and a fascination with the technical challenges ahead.
"This is one small thing I can do to help Ethiopia catch up with the ever fast changing Information Technology world," said 27-year-old Muktar Mohammed, another Addis Ababa emigre who now works as a software engineer in Springfield, Virginia, USA.
"It makes me feel I'm doing something for my country and that feels good."
Fellow translator Tegegne started thinking about what computers could do for Ethiopia in college.
"It always worried me that the people of Ethiopia using the fidel alphabet and not being very literate in English language would be left behind by the rest of the world," he said. "The chance for proprietary software companies translating their software to Amharic is next to zero since there is no money to be made in Ethiopia that would motivate them.
"When I was introduced to the free and open source software and it's philosophy around 1997-98 I realized that the Ethiopian people are not going to be left behind after all. If Ethiopians are ever going to benefit truly from the digital revolution then it would be through the free software.
"From that realization to volunteering to adapting the software to Amharic is short way. The hardest part was to stay engaged."
Another challenge was adapting the ancient language for the online age. They had lots of tools to fall back on. There us the Geez Unicode from the pioneering Geez Frontier Foundation (www.ethiopic.org), used to actually type out the letters and check for references. Then there was always AmharicDictionary.com, qalat.geez.org, EthiopianDictionary.com and computer terms glossary on the Amharic version of the online Encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://am.wiktionary.org/wiki/computer_glossary) for looking up particularly technical words.
. . . the Google group members who only started working together in earnest in November 2005.
"We indeed have an amazing spirit in the group and I think that is why we have been able to be successful in a matter of few months," said Alemayehu.
"We are grateful for that. We recognise each other's work. We thank and praise each other. I wouldn't say it is a standard for all voluntary online projects, but it should be.
When people join a certain group or organization voluntarily to help out, they should be appreciated for the goodwill. You don't pay them, remember?"
Full Text: http://www.bigissueethiopia.com/ethiotech/